Finding Joy -- the perfect name for a collection of hand-stitched embroidery works created by an artist whose approach to the work is one of exploration, discovery, and... joy.
I have always been attracted to fiber arts and textile-based hand-work, but embroidery has been my main fiber muse over the past year. After opening Smart and Becker, I found myself surrounded by Knoxville fiber people like Erin James of Crafty Housewife Yarns and Hope Brasfield of Hopebroidery, textile designers like Brooke Heuts of Gray Goods Studio, and all kinds of other weavers, macrame artists, knitters, and jewelry-makers whose primary bodies of work revolve around fiber.
But embroidery... there's something so deliberate about it and, also, so free. So meditative and concentrated but also wild and loud. A craft that began quietly in the home but that now cries in the streets.
I found myself searching for and following as many embroidery artists as I could find and, somewhere along the way, I ran across Shea's work.
Looking through her feed left me feeling so... light. The colors, shapes, and patterns were all just so delightful and filled with whimsy and my favorite thing about them is that they are just exactly what they are and nothing else. No words to read, pictures to discern, or overt message to think about -- just art for art's sake.
Don't get me wrong -- I love all of the above, but sometimes it's nice to think about nothing more than just how a piece looks and how that looking makes you feel.
In Shea's case, her work is more than art for art's sake. It is an exploration and her connection to the work, but the inspiration isn't overt. It was only through inviting her to show with Smart + Becker in Knoxville that I began learning about the part the work played in her life and the way her life informed her work.
About her work, Shea Goitia says...
You reach a time in your twenties where you're very aware of the fact that you're single. We can probably all think of signs that point to this, but at some point for everyone, you have one of those "look at your life, look at your choices" moments...or maybe more than one.
I've come to embrace this single girl persona, and have arrived at the understanding that whether it is temporary or permanent, it's a season of life that you can thrive in. Finding Joy is about seeking more for myself as an artist, exploring and experimenting, but it is also about contentment in what is.
Through the time I've put into this body of work, I've learned more about who I am as a person, and accepted those qualities. I tend to hyper focus on things, and while this can be harmful in certain areas of my life (like analyzing how witty my response was to someone I was chatting with on Coffee Meets Bagel), it's an important part of the process for my embroidery.
Each piece is worked on, one at a time, from start to finish, so my full self can be dedicated to the journey of that piece. I focus on exactly what color, texture, and pattern will go into each section, relentlessly making sure it's the perfect fit. While the individual pieces don't have meaning behind the colors or patterns within them, each stitch chronicles the passage of time for whatever season of life I was experiencing as I worked on it. There have been sun-soaked days on the sofa, anxious Metro rides on the way to first dates, visits home to see my parents, whole series of television burned through on Netflix, and many moments of quiet solitude stitched into each hoop. There have been many Friday nights home doing embroidery. And that couldn't make my heart any happier.
As a single person myself, and one who thinks a lot about how the role of handwork has changed over the years, this message had a powerful impact on me.
Shea is coming from Virginia to meet, greet, and chat about her work, so I hope you all will come and "find some joy" yourself this Friday, August 3.